Joan Rivers, arguably the queen of comedy for more than five decades, died last week from cardiac arrest following a throat procedure. The Emmy award-winning television host, playwright, producer and screenwriter appeared on many shows throughout the course of her career. Her comedic genius touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Despite her brash style of humor, there are many lessons we can learn from this 81-year-old entrepreneur.
Here are five lessons Joan’s brilliance and popularity have taught us.
Don’t Be Afraid to Kick Down Doors
Joan served as an example, teaching women how to successfully and boldly break into industries that are male-dominated. She was a pioneer in the comedy world who blazed a trail for stand-up comediennes like Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin and Tina Fey. In 1965 she landed her first big break as a gag writer for CBS’ “Candid Camera.” She was a contemporary with comics like Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Cosby, and she said that they got their big breaks in show business before her because they were men.
Joan became a comedic actress at a time when few female comics starred in TV shows. In 1986 she became the first woman to have her own late-night talk show on a major network. However, “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers” was revamped in 1987 by Fox executives who opted to change the show’s title to “The Late Show” and to begin rotating guest hosts.
You Can Reinvent Yourself
Joan was a master at reinventing herself as an entrepreneur and an entertainer over the past 60 years. Her career is a testimony that you CAN successfully reinvent yourself at any age. Although she continued her stand-up performances over the years, Joan came back into the limelight in the 1980s with guest appearances on TV shows such as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show.”
In 2003 she began appearing on E! Entertainment Television as a red carpet host for televised award shows. In 2008, she gained fame on reality shows such as “Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” These shows made way for Joan’s own reality show, “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best” on WE tv. Again, she saw a resurgence of popularity in 2010 when she became the host of “Fashion Police,” where she and her co-hosts critiqued celebrity fashion.
You Can Wear Many Hats
Joan taught people how to create a successful brand that encompasses a variety of business endeavors. She showed her range of talent by expanding comedy into different projects. Well known for TV shows, theater performances and voice acting, she also was a successful businesswoman and author.
In 1990 she launched The Joan Rivers Classics Collection on QVC, a billion-dollar endeavor that includes apparel, jewelry and accessories. The comic also created a line of beauty products in 2000, including her signature fragrance, Now and Forever. Joan wrote 11 books, and the last, “Diary of a Mad Diva,” was released in July. Her previous book, “I Hate Everyone . . . Starting With Me,” landed on the New York Times best seller list.
You’re Never Too Old to Be Stylish
Even at 81, Joan always looked her best with her bold and glamorous fashion sense. She was a popular fashion critic who was well-versed in the industry’s leading designers. She often donned expensive mink stoles, designer clothes, flashy jewelry and flawless makeup. Joan was an expert at infusing color, bling and glitz with her age-appropriate wardrobe. Unlike many aging public figures, she showed that you can look fabulous at any age. Although she was notorious for her plastic surgeries, she inspired us NOT to let ourselves go!
Remember How to Laugh
Joan’s ability to make a joke and laugh at anyone or anything – including herself – made her a relatable public figure. She found humor in the same things that many of us laugh about, including the colorful lives of celebrities. Her daughter, Melissa, was quoted saying that making people laugh was her mother’s greatest joy in life.
When discussing her comedic career, Joan said, “What pleasure you feel when you’ve kept people happy for an hour and a half. They’ve forgotten their troubles. It’s great. There’s nothing like it in the world. When everybody’s laughing, it’s a party. And then you get a check at the end. That’s very nice.”
I’m sure there are other valuable lessons we can take away from the life of this sharp-tongued comic. Joan’s dedication, hard work and talent shine through even after her death. Whether you were a fan or not, she will undeniably be remembered for her unique humor and pizzazz!
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